Aging Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham is finally getting replaced.

Voters from Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham authorized a bond for the roughly $60 million project in separate referendums last week. The communities will cover $6.8 million of the cost, and the state will cover the other $53.5 million.

School officials said 82 percent of voters from the four towns approved bonding the school construction project, with 57 percent approving a second question on whether to build a synthetic turf athletic field that will cost $649,000.

School Administrative District 75 Superintendent Bradley Smith said construction will likely begin in May 2018.

“The project is now cleared to move forward as approved,” Smith said in an email. “In the next several months detailed design work will be done and the project will be put out to bid.”

Mt. Ararat High School opened in 1973. The roughly 156,000 square-foot school serves 740 students. The new school will be 140,000 square feet.

Smith said the new school will be built near the existing school on land that now holds baseball and football fields. Smith said this will allow students to remain in the existing high school during construction.

The project also includes funding for new baseball and practice fields. Work on those fields could begin as soon as late spring.

A website set up by the Mt. Ararat High School Building Committee to help voters understand the scope of the project and its costs lists examples of tax increases that owners of average-value properties in each town can expect to pay to cover construction costs over the 20-year life of the bond.

In Harpswell, the owner of a home valued at $425,000 will see property taxes rise about $65 per year. The owner of a $178,000 home in Bowdoinham will see an increase of $41 per year, the owner of a $178,000 home in Bowdoin will pay an extra $46 per year, and the owner of a $182,000 home in Topsham will pay an extra $33 per year.

Committee members said they will spend the next year obtaining permits and preparing a construction proposal that will be bid on by contractors. Architects will prepare a detailed design for the new school.

The new high school will open in 2020 with the old high school eventually being demolished.

The Maine Board of Education approved state funding for the Mt. Ararat High School construction project at its Jan. 11 meeting.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]